High on Hotels

As told to Wendy Bowman

Yvonne Arias regularly turns over millions of dollars in real estate. She works with a variety of clients and in the past six years has earned a reputation as a specialist in hotel residences, emerging as the most successful broker to date at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live and The W Residences in Hollywood. Arias’ in-depth knowledge of the city’s rental market, property management, marketing and interior design has made her a valued resource as a consultant for real estate developers and investors.

She also sells and leases high-end homes throughout L.A. DIGS talked with the founder and CEO of The Property Lab (ThePropertyLabre.com)—an upscale boutique real estate brokerage firm headquartered at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live—to find out how she got into real estate, the decision to focus on high-end hotel properties, the perks of living at these dwellings and more.

Where did you grow up and how did you wind up in L.A.?

I moved around a lot as a kid. After earning a bachelor’s degree, I came to Los Angeles, as that seemed to be where you could really go after success.

When and how did you decide on a career in real estate? Have you always wanted to be a Realtor?

I was going after a really tough career pursuing acting. Although exciting in the beginning, I was ready for something new. I wanted a different career path and became interested in investing in a property, particularly something residential. So, I decided to pursue my real estate license. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Discuss your real estate focus now and what made you venture into this area.

I’m known as a specialist with hotel residences and also known as a leasing expert. One of my mentors, who is a very successful real estate broker in L.A., started with leasing and I followed in his footsteps. He gave me my first lease listing at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

What does being a hotel resident expert entail?

It’s a pretty uncommon niche, as there are only a few hotel residences in Los Angeles. I happen to have had a great deal of success at both The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live and also The Residences at W Hollywood. It entails having the clientele who are seeking this type of living arrangement, and also knowing the product well. Since these properties are so expensive, prospects expect you not only to know a lot about the particular property you’re selling, but also about competing properties.

Are condo hotel properties a good investment right now?

I am seeing more and more popping up all over the world. Here in Los Angeles, the Four Seasons Private Residences in Beverly Hills is currently underway. These properties seem to be a good investment, as there aren’t many of them, and this makes them more exclusive. Not only that, they’re all five-star properties, so they have that added attraction as well.

What is your no. 1 tip for someone looking to buy a luxury condo in L.A.?

Don’t wing it. Work with an expert who can offer you the proper guidance.

What do you love about selling hotel properties?

They’re such gorgeous, prized properties and really are the stars of their area. The Ritz is the star in Downtown, and the W is the star in Hollywood. I feel lucky to be doing business at these buildings.

What’s the most beautiful/exclusive space you’ve ever sold?

What comes to mind is a stunning, three-level home in Malibu that was featured in the film Sex and the City 2. This was a jaw-dropping oceanfront property for one of my favorite clients.

Tell me about some of the properties you have in your inventory right now.

One of my favorites is a designer-furnished condo on the 45th floor at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live for just under $4 million. It’s a huge, three-bedroom home that features massive windows offering a view of downtown skyscrapers, nearby mountain ranges and the bustling city. Another perk: The owner is including all of the furnishings, which makes moving easier for the lucky new resident.

What makes for the perfect residential hotel space?

The justification of hotel residence living is about the services and amenities. A hotel property should offer the owner and their guests an ease of living.

What services/amenities are people seeking when purchasing a hotel residence?

A recent client was interested in a helicopter pad. This potential buyer wanted to be sure he could be ahead of the game with L.A. traffic. Other than that, most people want to feel that sense of security that is offered in a five-star building. The presence of a 24-hour staff offers peace of mind to a lot of residents.

To what do you attribute your success at The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live and The W Residences in Hollywood?

Some great people who introduced me to these buildings, and I definitely thank the powers that be. I’m really grateful for the number of transactions I’ve done at these buildings during the past six years.

What is your take on the revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles; how has it evolved and what new developments are you seeing?

It’s changing right before our eyes. Right now, I’m watching the new Oceanwide Plaza and Circa projects going up along Figueroa Avenue. I can’t wait to see the finished products.

Do you have any advice for breaking into the L.A. real estate market?

The market is hot right now; be prepared to compete.

If you weren’t working in real estate, what would you like to be doing?

I think I’d be a pretty good chef. When I’m not working, I love to cook. I’m still not ruling that out.

What does the future hold for you?

I’m not sure, but I bet it’s going to be great.

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